For almost five hours, Karnataka Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar waited outside the Renaissance hotel in Mumbai. Sent to negotiate with rebel MLAs inside, whose resignations have left the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka on the brink of collapse, Shivakumar refused to leave without speaking to them.
But with rebel MLAs requesting the Mumbai police not to allow him into the hotel and heavy security outside, Shivakumar, refusing to leave, was Wednesday evening detained by police, taken to a police guest house and finally packed off to Bengaluru.
It began at around 8 am when he landed in Mumbai and reached the Renaissance Hotel in Powai. At the hotel gate, unidentified protesters shouted “go back” slogans even as the hotel’s management refused him entry.
Shivakumar insisted that he had booked a room in the hotel but the management cancelled it citing an “emergency in hotel”, forcing him to camp outside. Hours later, he was served breakfast by the hotel staff just as the Mumbai police issued prohibitory orders disallowing assembly of more than five people outside the hotel.
After standing for almost three hours, Shivakumar got to sit outside the hotel gate as the chairs were arranged for him at noon. And despite the incessant rain, Shivakumar, who was constantly on the phone, sometimes with one mobile in each hand, waited as his associates held umbrellas.
He said he had come only to meet party MLAs and had no weapons to threaten dissident them. “I will not go back until I take them back or get to meet them. They (The MLAs) are going to call me and speak to me, I will wait till they speak. They can’t go. I will not leave them,” he told reporters outside.
“I know them well. This BJP relationship (with the MLAs) is two-three days old but my relationship with them is of 40 years. I know them, my heart works with them, my heart is open to them. I know their hearts, I know their feelings, I will win them, I will take them (MLAs to Karnataka).”
Around 1.30 pm, Mumbai Congress leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam joined Shivakumar outside the hotel where Nirupam alleged that Shivakumar’s booking was cancelled by the hotel management under BJP pressure.
The police moved in while Shivakumar was in the middle of a TV interview. At around 2.30 pm, Shivakumar was almost pulled out and put into a police van, while Congress leaders including Milind Deora, were detained by police and taken to Mumbai University’s Kalina Campus.
Senior police officials said that nine people were detained at 2.40 pm under provisions of the Bombay Police Act for refusing to heed directions given by the police. A decision was taken to move them to the University of Mumbai given that Shivakumar is a sitting Cabinet minister in Karnataka.
“We did not want to take a minister to the police station as it would result in allegations of high-handedness and embarrassment for the state government. So we decided to take the leaders to an empty hall in the university campus,” said a senior Mumbai Police officer.
The leaders were finally allowed to leave at 6 pm and Shivakumar boarded a 7 pm flight back to Bengaluru, the police said.
Meanwhile, Congress worker Saket Gokhale filed a complaint of wrongful confinement at the Powai police station, alleging that Congress MLAs were confined inside the Renaissance hotel by unknown persons. —(Inputs Mohamed Thaver)